Microsoft said Thursday it would close a LinkedIn career-oriented social network in China, citing a “challenging operating environment” as Beijing tightens control over technology companies.
The American company will replace LinkedIn in China with an application intended for job application, but without the possibility of networking, said senior vice president of engineering Mohak Shroff.
“We are facing a much more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China,” Shroff said in a blog post.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Chinese internet regulators have given LinkedIn a deadline to better monitor the content on the website.
Launched in China in 2014, LinkedIn allows people to use personal and professional relationships to find job opportunities.
In addition to being a place to find a job, LinkedIn is also a place to share business information or news.
“You have to conclude that you will be having conversations on the business social network about circumventing regulations or complaining about regulations,” said independent technology analyst Rob Enderle of the Engerle Group.
“The Chinese government has no sense of humor when it comes to criticism; the result was very aggressive in stopping that kind of information. ”
Foreign companies in China have always had a thin line on politically sensitive issues so as not to upset the authorities in the world’s second largest economy.
The analyst said that it is currently very difficult to deliver the communication product to China, given the degree of supervision that the government there orders.
China is known for the terrifying “Great Firewall” that censors online content and activities.
“I’m not sure it’s going to work,” Enderle said.
“The more you limit information in the information age, the more creative people are in trying to find it.”
‘Undercurrent of deterioration’
Constant political tensions between the United States and China have probably worsened the situation there for LinkedIn, Enderle explained.
Huawei CEO Meng Wanzhou returned to China last month shortly after two Canadians released from prison in China arrived in Calgary, ending a diplomatic dispute that has poisoned ties for three years.
She is accused of violating US sanctions.
The U.S. has called Huawei a security risk with the potential to incorporate a back door into its telecommunications equipment to allow espionage.
Huawei has repeatedly denied such allegations.
“Given that the U.S. is treating Huawei and China in search of retaliation, that deterioration is not helping either country,” Enderle said.
“You would hope that at some point governments will come together and start looking for ways to cooperate.”
Chinese authorities are targeting a number of domestic technology giants due to alleged monopolistic practices and aggressive collection of consumer data.
The urge is part of the government’s broader policy to tighten control over the two world economies, including targeting private education, property and casinos.
Microsoft will “launch” the Chinese version of LinkedIn and launch an InJobs application dedicated to connected professionals in that country with companies looking for employment, says Shroff.
Microsoft bought LinkedIn in 2016 for just over $ 26 billion and worked to build a presence in China despite concerns about online censorship.
Facebook and Twitter have been banned in China for more than a decade.
Google left the country in 2010 in response to a hacker attack and censorship.
E-commerce giant Amazon’s website is available in China, but the market there is dominated by local players like Alibaba and JD.com.